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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Kelly’

The Funeral Owl (A Philip Dryden Mystery Book 7)

A local sends the editor of The Crow, Philip Dryden, a photograph of the rare Boreal – or Funeral – Owl.  Dryden feels as though it is an omen even though he is not superstitious.  A Chinese man has been found dead in the village of Brimstone Hill and there have been metal thefts locally.

Illegal vodka has been found in the area and two tramps appear to have met their deaths through the illicit spirit.  PC Stokely Powell wants Dryden’s help in solving a cold case – the brutal murder of a local man.  Dryden starts to see connections between the cases and becomes involved in some very frightening situations.

I really enjoy reading this series.  The author writes evocatively of the geographical background to the series – Ely and the surrounding countryside. Dryden and his wife Laura are interesting characters as is Humph, the taxi driver and friend.  If you want to read crime novels which are out of the ordinary, then do try this series. They are usually thought provoking and always well written and well plotted.  By the way, the so-called rabbit roundabout at Wisbech mentioned in this book does exist – I’ve seen it.

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Nightrise (A Philip Dryden Mystery Book 6)

This is the sixth book in this compelling and atmospheric crime series.  It starts off with a shock for Dryden when he is told his father has just been killed in a car crash when he believed him dead for thirty years in the Fen floods.  Then a body is found in a field in what seems like either an execution or a revenge killing of someone who appears to be a completely respectable member of the community.

Philip Dryden finds himself touched by a tragic story of an immigrant about to be deported and agrees to write a news story about the case.  In addition he is adjusting to major changes in his private life and wondering whether to apply for the editor’s job on the newspaper he currently works for – The Crow.

This is a tense and shocking crime story which takes the reader on a roller coaster of a journey through the more criminal elements of Fen life.  The geographical background is brought vividly to life – especially the drowned village.  I am still remembering the passages describing that, hours after finishing reading the book.

If you want a crime series which is out of the ordinary, features believable and likeable characters and is well written with a background which you can almost see as you read then do try this book and this series.  The books can be read as a standalone novel but are better read in the order in which they were published.

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The Skeleton Man (A Philip Dryden Mystery Book 5)

An abandoned village, handed over to the military seventeen years ago is the background to this intriguing mystery.  A skeleton which appears to have met its death by hanging – is found in an unknown cellar in the abandoned village of Jude’s Ferry after a bombardment by the army.

Journalist Philip Dryden is reporting on the exercise for his paper The Crow,  He also attended the evacuation of the village. This is the start of a remarkable story in which secrets long buried are brought out into the light of day resulting in more deaths and a dangerous quest for Dryden whose curiosity and nose for a story drives him on.

I found this a harrowing story to read with its portrayal of human evil and the far reaching effects of it on people in the present.  The book is well written and it brings to life the untold misery of many people’s day to day lives.  It is interesting that the author chooses to include his other series character in this mystery -D I Peter Shaw.

If you like mysteries with rather more  depth than most where not all the loose ends are neatly tied by the time the last page is turned then this may be the book, and the series for you.

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The Coldest Blood (A Philip Dryden Mystery Book 4)

Philip Dryden finds himself in the middle of an investigation which takes him back to his own childhood and an elusive memory from a holiday at a nearby holiday camp.  It is very cold in the Fens and people are dying of the excessively low temperatures.  Two men are found frozen to death, apparent victims of the weather but Dryden feels there is something more to the deaths.  His wife, Laura, is emerging from years in a coma and isn’t sure whether she wants to go on living.

As Dryden digs deeper into the dead men’s backgrounds he unearths all sorts of secrets and connections including one to a long ago murder and one to systemic abuse of boys in a Catholic orphanage.  This is a harrowing and intriguing mystery.  It is well written, as always, and the author weaves  together the disparate threads of the various stories to make a satisfying whole.

I particularly liked the descriptions of the freak weather and its effects on the facilities we take for granted in the twenty first century.  I didn’t work out what was going on and who was behind the killings until just before the end though the clues were there.  I thought the relationship between Dryden and his wife was well and sensitively handled and I shall be interested to read later books in the series to see how it progresses.  The books in this series can be read as standalone novels but are probably better read in the order in which they were published.

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The Moon Tunnel (A Philip Dryden Mystery Book 3)

Journalist Philip Dryden is interested by the discovery of a skeleton in a tunnel which led from a former prisoner of war camp .  The body seems to have been using the tunnel to get into the camp rather than escape from it and it seems to have met its death by shooting.

The archaeologists excavating the area seem uninterested in the body and the police are even less interested.  But Philip believes there is more to it than appears and his hunch is proved right when a much more modern body is discovered in the same trench.

I found this a totally absorbing story and I was interested in all the background information about prisoners of war in England.   I love the setting of this novel, and the series – in and around Ely – and the author writes evocatively about it. I like the characters – the enigmatic Dryden himself with his tragic private life; Humph – the taxi driver who loves junk food and language tapes and Dryden’s fellow staff members at The Crow – the local newspaper for which he writes.

If you like crime stories with interesting backgrounds and believable characters then try the Philp Dryden series.

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The Fire Baby (A Philip Dryden Mystery Book 2)

Philip Dryden is intrigued by Maggie Beck’s story.  She is one of only two survivors of a plane crash twenty seven years ago.  But she has a confession to make before she dies which will change the lives of many people.  Dryden – a journalist – promises to tell her story after her death.  Maggie is sharing a room with his semi-conscious wife, Laura, who is trying to tell him something which may just be important to his safety and that of others.

This is the second book in the series set in and around Ely in the Fens – a stark and beautiful landscape which the author really brings to life.  I like Dryden as a character and I’m intrigued to see how the author will develop the story of Laura and he disastrous car crash which has totally changed her life and that of her husband.

It is a powerful and well written crime novel which stays with you after you have read the last page. This book could be read as a standalone novel but is probably better read as part of a series so that the reader can follow the development of the series characters.

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The Water Clock (A Philip Dryden Mystery Book 1)

This is the first book in a series featuring journalist Philip Dryden.  He lives on a boat moored near Ely and works for a local paper.  He employs the eccentric Humph to drive him around in his ancient Ford Capri because he hasn’t driven since an accident two years ago which left his wife, Laura in a coma.  The reader first sees him at the scene of what appears to be another accident where a car has gone into a drain and the water has frozen above it – a not unusual occurrence in this part of the country.  Then a body is found in the boot of the car when it is recovered.

This is followed by the discovery of a skeleton behind a gargoyle on the tower of Ely Cathedral.  Gradually the mystery is unfolded as the body count mounts.  It seems that the police and Dryden himself are always one step behind the murderer.  Dryden has his own agenda too – to find out what really happened the night of his own accident and why the police seem not to have investigated it thoroughly.

This is an atmospheric mystery with an interesting main character.  I thought the relationship between Dryden and DS Stubbs was well done.  It is sparky and uneasy as each person needs the information the other can provide. I also liked the background of a provincial newspaper.  I didn’t like this quite as much as the first book in the author’s other series featuring Shaw and Valentine  but I think it will grow on me.

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